Rock-n-Read Project: Learning to Read Through Singing

November 24, 2016 06:25 PM

Not knowing how to read can make it difficult to succeed in life.

But a new program in the Twin Cities is hoping to boost reading in the classroom, by singing.


It's called the Rock-n-Read Program.

If you listen closely, it doesn't sound like a quiet, focused classroom.

Yet all these singing students College Prep Elementary School in St. Paul are actually learning how to read.

"It helps me become more of a better reader, and become a fluent reader too," says Anati, a 9-year-old fifth grader.

It's called the Rock-n-Read Project.

The goal: to get struggling readers to read at grade level.

"You listen for three times and then after you listen you sing five times," says 10-year-old Micheal, describing how it works.

The project began in 2014 with a bus turned mobile computer lab.

It visited YMCA's and summer school programs in Minneapolis serving 200 students.

This year, with the help of a $100,000 state grant, it's in use in five metro schools.

"It is an intervention, something that is different for kids, all of a sudden they wake up, come in, and they get excited about it and it's very different," says Bill Jones, co-founder of the project.

Results at a Minneapolis elementary school last year show the reading gain doubled among 4th graders who used the program for five months compared with those who did not.

"Steady beat is highly correlated, the ability to keep steady beat is highly correlated with reading achievement," says co-founder Ann Kay.

"We also think it's prosody in the voice, the voice needs to go up and down to understand language," Kay adds.

Not only are students learning to read, they're also tested on vocabulary and understanding of the folk songs.

For Anati is was the Star Spangled Banner.. 

"It taught me a little more about the flag of the United States," she says.

"They're getting better at their comprehension, they are reading to understand versus just reading to read," says fifth grade teacher Stacy Johnson.

But most importantly:

"They are excited to read. And that's huge, that's huge. They're actually wanting to do it," says fifth grade teacher Katy Swimelar.

The Rock-n-Read project will have initial results from the five metro schools in December.

They'll have to report to the legislature as well.

For trying it out, schools get a monetary bonus at the end of the year.

The hope is the program expands to other schools with the goal of helping students and closing achievement gaps.

You can learn more about the project here.


Jessica Miles

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